Ask the Critic… Er, Cocktail Waitress: Doing Shots


As a cocktail waitress at an infamous Village dive, I get asked a lot of off-putting things: “Did you go to college?” “Do you do yoga?” “What do your tattoos mean?” “Will you belly dance?” “Are you down for a hotel party in Atlantic City? We’ll take the bus, man, a party bus, and there will be porn stars there, yo!”

When so much of your work energy gets spent answering comic queries, preventing ass slaps, and gently letting drunk couples know that the cocktail waitresses are there for work, not to be their thirds (you’d be surprised how often my co-workers and I have to do this), you can be delighted to receive an actual honest question about the art of drinking.

So here, in the spirit of fine-spirit appreciation, this week’s question, popular at my place of employ: “What’s a good shot to take?”

First, the answer stems largely from what to avoid: “The Red-Headed Slut,” a sticky mix of Jägermeister, peach schnapps, and cranberry juice.

You should only take this — or any shot with a similarly tacky name like “Liquid Cocaine,” “Royal Fuck,” or “Abortion” — if you plan on flashing your boobs for beads, or doing the male equivalent, which likely includes carnies, alleyways, and oozing, green herpes.

Also say no to the apocalyptic-sounding “Four Horsemen,” the faux-suicidal “Kamikaze,” and the mythic “Jersey Turnpike” — supposedly the bar-mat liquid poured into a shot glass.

If, however, you simply want to get to a respectable level of drunk — between ex-texting and street-vomiting — just shoot pure whiskey, tequila, or vodka. I’m partial to Maker’s Mark. A bourbon, it has the strength of anything in the whiskey family, but a toasty smoothness at the same time. When a customer really wants me to pick, I always go with this, and the choice usually gets few complaints.

There’s some reasoning behind this suggestion, and it has nothing to do with alcoholic elitism. Super-sugary, fruity beverages mask the intensity of a drink. That doesn’t mean they get you drunker faster, but it’s far easier to down something that’s candy-like — and more of it, more quickly, without thinking — rather than something Listerine-flavored. Yes, those 20 “Skittle” shots seem like tipsy trips, but you want to make eyes at a stranger or steal a traffic cone, not wake up, digit-less, on the Coney Island boardwalk.

You can’t do this as easily with hard liquor that tastes like hard liquor. Even with high-quality stuff, your shoulders stiffen, your throat contracts, and your face puckers quite a bit. Your esophagus then burns, and that ulcer you’ve been ignoring has a new reason to say “Hello and good day!” (In my mind, this ulcer wears a bowler hat, sports a monocle, carries a cane, and has a prominent, curled mustache.) Anyway, these shots are as challenging as a short flight of stairs for a chain-smoker. You have to pace yourself and take breathers, which results in a more pleasant, sustained, and stable altered state.

That said, whatever you do decide, be sure to booze responsibly, and bottoms up!

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